By KAYDEE JONES
A little spontaneity is good for the soul.
However, in a world dominated by approaching assignment deadlines, strict class schedules, picking up some shifts for spending money, multiple extracurricular activities and obligations to sleep and eat, it is hard to salvage a social life.
Speaking from experience, even if I get lost in thought for a while about getting away from all of it, the constant ping of reminders or blaring alarms on my phone quickly pull me back to my responsibilities.
Just looking at my planner is enough to give me an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. Each day is filled with assignment due dates scribbled in multiple colored inks in an attempt to be structured. The calendar month page has just about every day of the month mapped out.
Is that organization or over-exhaustion? I will try to get back to you on that one.
But this is not an article about how stressful college is. Anyone can set foot on a college campus, read the face of an involved student and see the self-induced anxiety masked underneath. I know I can easily spot the overachievers at my small-town college in Salisbury.
That, however, is not the point; the point is that sometimes an hour of Netflix or a trip to get some food is not enough of an escape.
Sometimes it takes your roommate banging obnoxiously on your door at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning—even though you planned on waking up at 10 a.m. to do homework—to jolt you away from the hub of obligations.
“Get up, we’re going on a road trip,” Rachel, my friend, said.
Road trip? Where? How long will it take? Will I be home in time for work or to do any studying? Panic coursed through my veins as I remembered my planner, which was about to burst and spill responsibilities all over my bedroom.
Structure and organization propel me through college, and this unplanned social activity threatened to upset that system.
“Are you dressed yet? We’re going to eat when we get there.”
I’m not sure if it was the nagging of my roommates or of my subconscious that finally lifted me out of bed.
Go. Have fun. Be spontaneous for once in your life.
So, I went.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day—65 degrees and sunny in mid-February (thanks, climate change!). I climbed into the back of my roommate’s red Jeep Wrangler and threw my hair up in a messy bun to prepare for the tunnel of air that would blast me while the windows were down.
As we pulled out of our apartment complex with the sun beating down and pop music blasting through the speakers, I felt myself starting to relax.
But somehow the question escaped my lips: “So, where are we going?”
Our experienced navigator in the driver seat, Kayla, turned around when she pulled up to a stoplight and offered an answer disguised in the form of a question.
“Have you guys ever been to Chincoteague?”
Actually, yes, I have.
Memories of visiting my grandparents at their little getaway on the island surfaced, and a wave of nostalgia hit me in the stomach in time with the bass pumping through the song we had on. The first time I ever rode a horse was during the weekend of the town’s annual pony swim.
“Not in a long time,” I said. “Let’s go.”
Fruitland was eventually behind us, then University of Maryland Eastern Shore. We made our way into Virginia and soon found ourselves approaching Chincoteague Island.
We drove in circles for a few minutes trying to find a place that was open. The small Eastern Shore town thrives in the summer, but shuts down in the off-season winter months.
Eventually we stopped and ate at a small pizza and sub place and then headed for the beach. The ride to the beach was short because I occupied my time by scanning outside for wild ponies. It only took us a few minutes to decide that the breeze off the water made it just a little too chilly to stay long, so we headed back into town.
After we circled the island to play the “I wish I could buy that beach house” game, we stopped at Island Creamery for a frozen treat.
With my waffle cone in hand and the sun on my back as we sat on a picnic table outside of the shop, I reflected about the morning and afternoon. I had spent it with my two roommates whom I connect with so well, and there was no drawn-out plan for anything. For a while, I genuinely enjoyed myself with no distractions.
When we arrived back at our apartment later that day, my planner and textbooks were sitting in the middle of my desk, right where I left them. Succumbing to spontaneity certainly did not erase my responsibilities, but playing hooky from real life for a day did feel like the breath of fresh air that you experience on a spring-like day in winter on the beach.